Louisiana Flood Recovery Info and Links

I collected some some links below, but a hmarketing group put together a more comprehensive list.

Whether you need help or want to donate or volunteer, this is the place to go.



I’m compiling an ongoing list of links that relate to the most recent Louisiana (and Mississippi) flooding in August 2016. Continue to check this or share it on social media as I will update it.

As always, do your own research on charities to determine which ones are legitimate. I’d also like to add that you should choose to donate where her heart lies. Some people love helping the animals. Others like donating to the rebuilding process and some prefer to support the immediate recovery efforts. Still others would prefer to pack up their stuff and head down for a hands-on experience. We all play a part, and you don’t have to feel guilty for not doing it all! Together, we’ll get it done.

Please feel free to send links to me via the contact information on my “about me” page or post in the comments section below. If it’s not legit or spam, I will delete it, so keep it clean.

I haven’t categorized them because many do several things, but I have noted what they do. See their websites for more details.

For Lafayette: Daily Advertiser

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https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fginger.b.bennett%2Fposts%2F10153852957632776&width=500” target=”_blank”>Ideas for helping from a public Facebook post: Amazon and donations needed

Wildlife Rehabilitation (wildlife has to stay in the state where it was found).

FEMA Information and Resources

CNN.com (How to help with a variety of options)

Gleaning for the world (shelters in Louisiana and Texas)

Nola.com article with a collection of charities and organizations

Link to AirBnb site where you can donate places to stay

Louisiana State Animal Response Team

United Way of Southeast Louisiana

Red Cross (Initial Recovery Efforts and shelters)

Operation BBQ Relief (Cool organization that helps feed people)


Samaritan’s Purse (Provide physical help and spiritual comfort)

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Louisiana Baptists (statewide organization)

Evangelical Lutheran Church (long-term recovery efforts)

Friendship Chapel and Celtic Studios Shelter (Local dropoff for donations. Please see Facebook page. This morning they asked for no more donations at the moment.)

Harvest Food Band Fundraising Effort (Get a t-shirt to show your support)

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United Methodist Church (Ongoing assistance after the media attention is gone.)

United Methodist Relief Committee (Help purchase cleaning supplies for those cleaning up!)

Send me more!!!





The Intersection of Chaos

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In case you were wondering, it’s kind of mess down here. The events of the last few days have given new meaning to a “a river runs through it”. I have numerous friends with needs, but we are cut off because the Amite River is running wild over all roads between us. To make matters worse, in the valley of mud, there is no cell coverage. The only way they can communicate is via Facebook and only if they have wifi. We all know that wifi generally runs on electricity. Electricity and water don’t mix very well.

My hometown…

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I, on the other hand, am on an island. My life is running along normally (sort of). Most of my haunts are open. I met a gaggle of friends yesterday at Magpie for coffee after I landed in Baton Rouge. Ironically, the last time we all gathered there was the day that the police shooting occurred here. Again, we were all a bit shellshocked from the events happening around us, but none of us were directly impacted. Each of us had friends and family who were directly impacted, but we had no way of getting to them.


Today the friends who can text me via wifi have kept me somewhat up to date with their adventure. They are cleaning up. They are picking up building material that has come up from the floor, tearing up sheetrock and throwing out personal items. It is muddy, snaky, stinky and very, very sad. For many, they are cleaning up their childhood homes and are worried about how their elderly parents will handle this. Thankfully, the Universe has provided somewhat cooler weather for us.

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Click here for story.

Meanwhile, back at the farm, I am packing. I don’t have to pack for long. I got the little house on Mohawk in St. Joseph, and I close the second week of September. I have such awesome friends there that I had several options on temporary housing, and I plan to stay at my friend Kathy’s lakehouse on Dewey Lake in Dowagiac.

My new house!

My preparations have been complicated by the lack of reliable phone service and the inability to get around town outside my little island. But I can’t complain. These are small problems compared to my friends in Denham Springs and Watson. My fur babies have no idea what’s about to happen, but I do believe they know something is about to happen. They are a little more clingy than normal, and Ashok is watching me like a hawk.

I had a major meltdown this morning. I’m emotionally wrecked because of the move and this flooding situation. I’m physically exhausted because I’ve been running on adrenaline and caffeine for three weeks straight. I’m intellectually stretched managing a new job and a move. A meltdown was bound to happen, and it finally did. Thankfully my friend Michael talked me down off the ledge, and I’m back in the swing of things.


For those of you that live away, I want to emphasize the gravity of the situation here. I don’t know about the scope of the disaster, but it looks very much like Katrina in many ways. Whole neighborhoods and towns have been wiped out. There will be much rebuilding that needs to be done. Thankfully, the loss of life is not nearly as high, but recovery will take years. Massive reconstruction will need to occur. Many, many people have lost their jobs. My niece finally made it through the immediate danger, but her school took in 6 feet of water. She is a teacher, and she is unemployed with two small children. She will probably need to relocate with family to get back on her feet. She will not be alone. Most of us don’t have massive savings accounts to get us through this kind of financial disaster.

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My childhood friend Jean Ann’s beautiful home yesterday.


I urge you to donate your time, energy or resources to help these people affected by this flood. They need immediate assistance with food, water and shelter. My rental will go fast as housing here will be sucked up in a few days for those that have jobs but no home. Some will need to live in shelters until they can find a job and a place to live. You can donate to the Red Cross, or you can donate here locally. Others will need assistance in rebuilding. Yes, there will be government money, but workers will be needed, and supplies will be in high demand.

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Click here for link.

I knew lots of people affected by Katrina, but I know many more affected by this unnamed disaster. The hardest hit area was my hometown. They were my high school boyfriends, BFFs and basketball teammates. They are my relatives. They are my touchstones. With them I learned how to put on makeup, catch crawfish, flirt with boys and say my ABCs. I feel really weird leaving in the middle of this. I feel a responsibility to stay and help, but I have to go. The timing really sucks.

I have collected some links for donations, and you can click here for that list. Stay tuned. Meanwhile…..





Water, Water Everywhere….

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I left the beautiful St. Joseph/Benton Harbor area about noon yesterday. I knew it was pouring buckets at home. My friend Laura told me that it was bad and asked if she could pick up Ashok for me. I had such a good week with my new job and the new house that I figured a long day flying would not knock me off my perch. So what if it takes me awhile to get back? The worst case scenario would be that I would sleep in the Atlanta airport 30 feet from a Starbucks.

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As I watched the flooding play out on Facebook, (isn’t it weird that we can watch tragedies as they unfold) I saw the usual people having problems with water. Everybody else stayed put knowing that for 25 or 30 years they stayed dry in a flood event. But the rains continued to fall … and fall … and fall without ceasing. One by one my friends from childhood started posting that they had to move family members out of houses that had never flooded before. They lost everything and were heartbroken. The news reports started comparing it to the great flood of 1983. This would be worse, they said. And the rains continued to fall.

My flight got canceled after a 3-hour delay. There were a few people that were loudly complaining about the incompetence of the airlines, and I wanted to ask them if they had been watching what was happening in our city. Their anger was misplaced. The wrath of Mother Nature was pounding the community where I grew up, and the town where I now live. If anything, we were protected. We were dry and safe and surrounded by convenience and air conditioning.

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The drama unfolding before my eyes continued to deteriorate overnight. Pleas were posted online for rescues for themselves or loved ones. The water, it seemed, is relentless and taking everything in its wake. Even those that were protected in the past were succumbing to the flood of 2016. My sister said our friend Mandy evacuated at 3 AM and waded in chest-deep water to her mother’s house which was now under water. The Bend Road – the road next to the fickle Amite River – was quickly a very unsafe place to be. Headlines screamed that people in “the Bend” needed to evacuate immediately.

Notice this is for MONDAY!!

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“Rising fast”, “Prayers, please”, “need rescue” and “this is scary” peppered my news feed amidst the normal goings-on around the country. I feel like some kind of alternate reality is happening over there in that little town while I’m sitting comfortably at a friend’s house in Alpharetta. My biggest problem is that my luggage is in Baton Rouge, and my hair products are in it. I bought new clothes and a few items to tide me over in case I’m here a few days. Delta says we are taking off at 7:45 PM tonight, but I don’t know. Even so, if the roads are cut off, I may spend a night at the Baton Rouge airport… hardly a tragedy. I feel extremely lucky in comparison.

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The flash flood warning is on until Sunday, and that just accounts for the rain. The rivers than run through that area are death traps when they flood. They will be cresting higher than ever. I saw enough of their destructive wake when I was growing up there. Now the area has become much more populated with many homes built on top of wetlands. The natural flood plain is now populated with neighborhoods. In other words, it’s not over. And the fat lady has not even begun to sing.

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My niece is waiting for a helicopter airlift with her kids on Highway 16 in Watson. Livingston Parish is cut off from Baton Rouge by surging water. The interstate is closed in several places throughout the Baton Rouge area. I don’t know how I’ll get home even if I land in Baton Rouge. My Aunt is awaiting rescue in the Bend after refusing a rescue attempt this morning. My friend Jean Ann tried to move her car to higher ground, and it’s now stalled on the highway. The new high school is flooded as is my childhood home. Almost everybody I know out there is evacuated or on the verge of it. And the rain continues to fall. There is water, water everywhere.

Please pray for South Louisiana, y’all. This is truly scary.


Whirlwind: Sunsets, Collaboration and Insomnia


Whew! What a week! I started my new job this week at Whirlpool. Honestly, my mind is in a harried state although I did sleep the whole night through las night for the first time since I got my offer about 3 weeks ago. There is nothing better than a full night’s sleep after a bout of insomnia. But I know next week I’ll be right back to it. My estimation is that my sleep will get back to normal at the end of September or early October… whenever I get permanently settled. I know me. My mind does not rest when there is stuff to do.

Me and my coworker Ann took a stroll on the beach in New Buffalo last night!

And I have plenty of stuff to do! As I anticipated, they were waiting on me. It has been intense these first few days. I’m in charge of training (YES!!), and I’ve had to get up to speed enough to make decisions on some key items in addition to having the usual new hire learning curve. I decided last weekend that I was going to table my social activities up here until I get back permanently because I wanted to focus on work and house hunting. And I’m glad I did. I don’t have the emotional or energetic bandwidth to handle all of that.

If I had to use one word to describe my new job it’s collaborative. The number of meetings that people have on their calendars is mind-boggling. And the workplace is designed for collaboration. I am back to cubicle living, but I’m never there. All over the building, in every corner, there are conference rooms (for over 6 people) and huddle rooms (for 1-5 people). Colorful, comfortable furniture is scattered all around so that you can work alone comfortably in privacy OR grab an area for a quick group pow wow.  I absolutely love it! And if you are ever looking for me and can’t find me – look here!


There is a fully functional coffee shop downstairs complete with a barista and homemade pastries from the favorite local bakery here – Bit of Swiss. I’m trying to stay away from the pastries for the time being but I imagine I’ll indulge soon. The cafeteria features local fare, fresh organic vegetables and even a station where you can have a featured ethnic dish prepared by a chef. It’s not your typical cafeteria food. I felt like I was at a wonderful restaurant, and my dish was only $7.

In my off hours I’ve been searching for a house. I’ve found three suitable candidates. A lovely 1920s home in downtown St. Joe is my favorite. But my second choice is tied between a beautiful little beach-style condo right on Lake Michigan and a larger, more traditional condo in a quiet garden-style setting. All of them are amazing, and I had a hard time picking one. I made an offer on the downtown St. Joe house, but it has another offer on it as well. I’ll know today who wins. If I don’t get it, I’ll make an offer on one of the condos. I’m still trying to decide what’s my favorite. They both have advantages, and that lake is so beautiful. Below are some shots of the backyard at the lake condo.

Downtown House: Click here for the listing.

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The one thing I have made time for this week is the local sunset ritual. The sunset is so beautiful over Lake Michigan. People gather on the shore and hang out to watch the sun set. On some days in the summer, the sun hangs over the Chicago skyline. It’s been too hazy while I’ve been here to see it, but it’s beautiful just the same. Elderly couples drive up with their picnic dinners to watch the sunset. I wonder how many sunsets they have watched together over the years. It’s so relaxing and a beautiful way to put the day to bed. I’ll leave you with some photos. I haven’t filtered any of these.

I’ll be home next week to pack up and get out of the steamy south. I have to say I’m dreading stepping back into that sauna – especially given what I have to do next week. Wish me luck on the house!

Sunday Night Check-In: A New World


Yesterday afternoon I had a few minutes by myself within four walls, and my inner critic decided to ambush me. What the hell are you doing? What if you end up feeling lonely up there? Are you sure you want to deal with winter again – by yourself? I felt the grip of fear squeeze tightly on my heart. I panicked for a second, and then I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. The grip did not loosen, but my conscious mind reached for my mantra that I chose from a book a long time ago – Feel the fear and do it anyway. (Click here for the book.)

I let myself feel it, but I went down my mental list and reminded myself that I’ve done this any number of times before. There is always a moment or two when I want to turn tail and run. But it doesn’t mean anything. I’ve learned to tolerate the pain of endings because my experience has taught me that new beginnings are worth the effort.

I woke up about 2:30 this morning stoked about the first day of my new adventure. This was it. All of the planning and waiting was over, and today I was starting to move forward into my new life in Michigan. I’ll get back to Louisiana next week to move, but I’ll be here in person to look for houses and start work. I couldn’t stop smiling as I stood in line to board the plane. I had some things I wanted to do in flight, but all I could do was bask in the “sauce” that I had created for myself with this change. So, I just cleared my mind and dreamed about the future.


I arrived around 1 PM, and I stopped by my friend Jill’s house which was 9 minutes from the airport. She made me a grilled cheese sandwich, and we chatted briefly over fruit and veggies. After lunch, I checked in to the hotel and decided to go for a run on my old running path.


*** I went for a run at 4 PM in the daylight on a sunny day in August. ***

For somebody who has lived in the south for the last 10 years, that is monumental and somewhat unbelievable. I didn’t even sweat the first mile. By the end of the three miles, my shirt was sweaty on the neckline, and I had a ring of sweat near my hairline. THAT …. WAS …. ALL!!! I wasn’t even too sweaty to go to the grocery and shop for a few essentials. Woohoo!!! I could probably pick up running again.

St. Joe was bustling. Everybody was out on Silver Beach, and the town was hopping to the beat of the last days of summer. I thought I’d give you a first look at my new little hometown. Oh yeah, and luckily I brought a sweater. It’s going to be in the low 60s here tonight – upper 50s close to the lake. I don’t want to catch a chill!!

Y’all have a great week, and think of me tomorrow at 9 AM Eastern Time. It’s my first day of my second career at Whirlpool!! That’s a pretty big deal.

Sunday Night Check-In: Home Stretch


I’m feeling a bit sad tonight. The good-byes have started. I’m looking forward to this week but a part of me is dreading it. I have lunches, dinners and breakfasts scheduled all week with friends…. friends who will be saying good-bye.

We’ll see each other two hours later on Facebook so it’s not like it’ll really be goodbye. But it will mean that seeing each other face-to-face, hugging each other’s necks and sitting down to coffee or a meal will not happen again for a really long while. I’m telling myself that it’s not goodbye. I’m just moving to another neighborhood 13.5 hours away. I’m telling myself that it’s not really goodbye…. it’s not really goodbye …. it’s not REALLY goodbye. 

And for my friends in Michigan, we just have to get this week over in order to start our coffee dates and yoga classes and meals in Michigan restaurants. They’ve been in another neighborhood for almost 13 years. We will all probably be a little heavier, a little more wrinkled and a lot more gray than the last time we hugged each other’s necks. Apparently I gave my friend Kathy my snowshoes when I left, and she’ll be returning them to me in a couple of weeks. Life will resume in Michigan after a very long break. It won’t be long until I will just be a normal part of their world and they of mine.


Ashok is uneasy. She can tell something’s going on. I’m not sleeping as well as usual. I’ve got a list a mile long of services to cancel. The movers are booked, and my days as a Louisiana gal are numbered. Right now I have about two weeks and three days but who’s counting?

I was 23 years old the last time I said goodbye to Louisiana. I had a small carload of belongings. I drove away from my house in Watson in my sort of new Mercury Lynx hatchback that leaked when it rained. I set off to be a reporter at a small newspaper in Harlingen TX called The Valley Morning Star. My reporter stint didn’t last long, but it was my very first adventure, and I had been waiting on it for all of my teenage years. My sister says I drove away, and she ran inside and cried unconsolably the rest of the day. I was the first one to launch. As for me, I doubt I even looked in the rear view mirror. This was my new grown-up life, and I was ready to begin it. No regrets.

My move three years ago…

Lately I’ve felt like a star in Back to the Future. Three years ago this week I moved here, and Facebook keeps populating these pictures of my Rav 4 piled up with all of my belongings. I’m doing the same things I’m doing now but in reverse. I also bought my house in Memphis in late July, and I moved into my apartment before that in early August. Thankfully, I don’t have pics on Facebook of all of those moves, or I’d feel like I was in sequel four of Back to the Future, Sharon-style. It could get very confusing.

I am thrilled about my new job, and I’m already looking at house listings. I want to buy when I get there. I’ve spent three long years in limbo, and I’m ready to settle down for a little while. I know me. It won’t be forever. My friend Ann is already telling me that she wants to come see me in Michigan before I move. My average is about 3 years with a few outliers that were longer or shorter. If you want to come visit, I’d say plan it in the next couple of years. I could be there forever, but my track record says probably not.


My first look at my house here.

There will be tears this week. There will be laughter. There will be frustration in tying up loose ends. My temper might be short. I may even melt down. One week from today, I will be in a hotel in St. Joseph getting ready for my first day in my new job. My feelings are all jumbled up, and I feel tender. Louisiana School is almost over. I have learned much, cried much, laughed much and, most of all, grown much. In a couple of months, maybe I’ll take some time to process it all. If nothing else, it has most certainly been interesting.

Y’all have a good week. In just a moment, I’ll be gone. 








Here we gooooo…….


So I had a few days of reveling in the fantasy of my new big job and the transition to get there. There’s always one day in any relocation I’ve ever done where the bubble bursts, and sh*t gets real. That day was yesterday. My relocation coordinator called me and set things in motion. If you’ve never done this before, it’s a LOT in a short period of time. What normally takes 3-6 months happens in about 2-3 weeks. Because when you move for a job, they want you there. They didn’t hire you to have take 3 months to figure out what you want to do.

I need to be up there by mid-August. I initially didn’t think it would be that quick, but very quickly I see that it’s going to be a lot easier to get it over with. So I’m juggling appointments with movers, applying for mortgages, completing new hire paperwork and making arrangements for drug testing. Holy cow!! It is happening, and it is happening NOW. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to get my job done at work.

My friend Michael has been a godsend to me. I was melting down yesterday, and he – who has done this as often as me – is the one that urged me to go ahead and get it over with. I just want it to SLOW DOWN, I said. But we both know this is part of the adventure. It’s the roller coaster chugging up the hill and then the ferocious exhilarating descent into the unknown. There will be an end, but meanwhile it’s time to put my hands up and enjoy the adrenalin rush.


I’ve got a little circle of friends from St. Joe in a private Facebook  room that are helping me with logistics, and my friend Ann is helping me with “Whirlpool-related” questions. I feel very supported. I’m praying that this will be effortless. I know it won’t, but I’m holding space that what I need will show up when I need it. That also means that planning is just a task that gets me moving in the right direction. Not everything will go as planned, and there will be tears and frustration and a need for extreme flexibility. And one day close to the holidays, it will all be history.

I have to keep reminding myself why I do this. Yes, this is a great job. It’s my dream job. But I’ve done this many times before, and I will likely do this again. The great thing about Whirlpool is the opportunity to take roles around the country. Whirlpool has moved me to Seattle and to Benton Harbor once before. I also worked for them in Knoxville. In the back of my mind, I’m dreaming of an expat opportunity somewhere in my next decade in Italy. And maybe I’ll retire at the Knoxville location so I can live out my days close to my beloved Applachians. I have to roam. It’s what I dreamed of as a teenage girl not far from where I am now, and it has never disappointed me. I’m a nomad and an adventurer.

Some people feel like home is in whatever town they grew up in. For others, home is a state. “I will always live in Texas,” some friends say who move from Dallas to Houston to Austin. For me, home expands to include the entire country. Right now, my sights are set on a little beachside town up north. I get to drive through Memphis to get there. It’s time to roll with it… the only way out is through. 



Sunday Night Check-In: Change is in the Air


Looking at Chicago across the Lake from St. Joe at Sunset

I’m in a roll-with-the-punches sort of mode. I’ve done this about 8 times in my life, and it never gets any easier. In fact, as I get older, I’m much more cognizant of how relocation impacts me, my pocketbook and my social circle. It’s not a decision I take lightly any more. When I was younger, I was like, “Woohoo!! Where’s the wind blowing me now?” I still have some of that feeling. The breeze of change is messing with my curls and making me feel like a free spirit, but I’m on an emotional roller coaster. I’ve spent as much time this weekend sobbing as I have with this gigantic smile on my face, and I know both are perfectly normal. The next two weeks will be brutal and amazing and sad and incredibly exciting.


My girlfriends at coffee today

My phone has been blowing up for four days with calls and texts and social media notifications from here in Louisiana and Texas and there in Michigan and Indiana. One group of friends is dreading saying goodbye, and another group is asking how they can help me get settled. Technology makes this so much easier. The first six moves I made, I knew I was leaving friends behind that I would likely never see again. We’d chat on the phone a couple of times, maybe send some letters or emails, but the friendship would fade away as new friendships took their place. As I was leaving my Meetup Group friends today, we decided we should have some virtual coffee dates when I get up north. It’s not exactly the same, but I can tell you it’s pretty darn close. That’s very comforting.


My friend Autumn and I are already planning on heading to Jolly Orchards this fall for apple pie. That place makes the best apple pie I have ever put in my mouth. As I was sweating my butt off today walking at noon, I imagined the leaves turning colors, sipping apple cider and eating a big old piece of apple pie with ice cream. I spent 20 minutes with my friend AnneMarie debating whether we should get snowshoes or cross-country skis for winter hiking. Cross country skis are more popular, and I can more easily find companions, but snowshoes are more stable and less likely to cause an injury. I don’t know… I’m thinking I’ll get both. What the hell?


Running in Michigan

I’m already looking forward to stopping at Cafe Tosi’s on the way in to work to grab a mocha on snowy mornings. I’ve asked my girlfriends here to plan a trip to Chicago on the City of New Orleans for Christmas shopping on Michigan Avenue. We’ll get hot chocolate and mess up our boots with street sludge. I can’t wait to see their faces when we go by the fabulously decorated windows at Macys (formerly Marshall Fields). Oh yeah, and my sister is coming up next summer so we can do the Lake Michigan Circle tour. Maybe we’ll even take the ferry across Lake Michigan just for kicks. I’ve never done either.

My mouth is watering thinking of Garrett’s popcorn, Chicago-style hot dogs, and double-dipped chocolate-covered peanuts from South Bend Chocolate Company. I want to ride the carousel down at Silver Beach, ride my friend Marv’s Harley down the coast and head over to Ann Arbor to visit with my friend Nancy. And I want to meet Veronica in Grand Rapids and my cousin near Kalamazoo. Oh yeah, and Ann comes up every other week to work, so I look forward to hanging out with her frequently. To boot, there are several St. Joe folks that have become acquainted with me via my blog, and I’ll be meeting them for the first time soon. This is going to be so fun!


It tugs at my heart when I turn to leave my friends here because I’m not really sure if I’ll see them again before moving. I don’t know the relocation plan yet, so it’s all up in the air. I visited my friend Jean Ann this weekend, and I was sad when I left because we just didn’t do this as much as I would have liked while I was here. There’s no time to make it up now. My family is planning get-togethers to say goodbye, and I know my schedule is going to get full quick. For the next little while I’ll have a permanent frog stuck in my throat. My normal ration of Kleenex will at least double. And I dread the actual moment of driving away. That is usually the hardest part. It will not be pretty.


Christmas on Michigan Ave

I remembered yesterday that I needed to check the expiration date on my passport. This job will require my presence in India and Mexico as well as Michigan. But don’t tell my parents. They think it’s Indiana and New Mexico, and I’m not telling them otherwise. I also have to start purging my house of things I don’t want to move, decide if I want to buy or rent and head over to the Dillard’s Outlet center to get some bargains on winter boots, coats and sweaters. Nobody needs that stuff here, so I should be able to get them for a steal!

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Cafe Tosi’s in the Winter

I feel really blessed that Whirlpool will make this move easy and so much less expensive than the one 3 years ago. They want me to concentrate on work, so they take care of virtually everything. Of course, there are things they can’t do like deal with utility companies, get my new Michigan driver’s license and vehicle registration and close on a house. But I’ll only need to pack a bag and my fur babies for the drive up.

Change is in the air. And it will be quick. I start August 8 and work virtually until I get settled. So, I’m rolling with the punches until I find myself settled in a house near Benton Harbor. It’s my favorite way to roll!

If you want to read some of my St. Joseph Blogs, click here. Just keep scrolling!

The Quest for Benton Harbor


Me in Benton Harbor, circa 2001

In October of 1993, I needed a job. I was married to a sports columnist whose travel schedule was crazy, and I needed a job with flexible hours or we never saw each other. Whirlpool Corporation opened a customer service call center on Peters Road in West Knoxville. The center was 24 hours, and I had my coveted night-time and weekend shift to match my husband’s hours. The pay was good to boot, the work was interesting, and there was plenty of opportunity to grow professionally in an organization of 60,000 employees.

The Whirlpool Call Center in Knoxville

The call center was new. Most of the managers had relocated from Whirlpool’s corporate campus in Benton Harbor MI to open their newest project. It grew and grew and grew. From my first day, this southern gal was fascinated with the Michiganders who ran our office. We partied a lot in those days, and I would often corner a Yankee and quiz them about what it was like “up north.” From the very beginning, my dreams began to revolve around working in Whirlpool’s World Headquarters and learning to live in that curious land on the banks of Lake Michigan.


I was married, of course, and there was no newspaper there big enough to support my husband’s career. Those were just a 30-something woman’s dreams. But after we divorced, my quest began in earnest. I took a job on a high-profile project which was the single biggest skill-builder of my career, and I focused on work. That landed me a sales job in Seattle, and I finally ended up in Benton Harbor in June of 2000 as a Training Specialist at the Michigan customer service call center. I will never forget the day that I drove up to the “Ad Center” (short for Administration Center) for the first time. I took a picture by the sign out front, and I took some time to soak up my accomplishment. It felt really, really good.

The Service 2000 Team


As a young girl I always, always dreamed of being a corporate executive. I was so thrilled when I bought my first suit. I just knew I was on my way, and I’d be running one of the world’s greatest companies. As my career progressed, I realized that I wasn’t really that ambitious. Money didn’t really motivate me. Power seemed empty. What motivated me was getting stuff done. I love the feeling of working hard for something and seeing a result. I love managing things. Over and over I am drawn to being in the hub of the wheel. I want … no I LIVE… to be in the middle of the action. And Whirlpool is where I learned how to be effective.


The “Rent-A-Husband” Innovation Team


I left Whirlpool 3 years after I landed at the World Headquarters. I was distracted by a man that I married too soon. I was in a very dark period of my life spiritually, and I felt lost. Whatever I had in my life at that time felt wrong, and Whirlpool was thrown into the rubble by association. I was restless and scared and wanted something – anything – different.

I’m a lucky gal, and my scrappiness and lust for hard work always lands me in some great places. But I’m not always the most focused. Two years ago, I realized that I needed to focus more on my career “path” if I was ever going to be able to retire. Now is the sweet spot for saving money, and I had the skills and capabilities to be successful. But I had not been thrilled with my last few jobs, and I felt aimless. So I invested in a few visits with a career counselor.

Michelle and I explored my interests and inclinations with some personality testing and reviewed my resume and job experience for what worked and what didn’t. As we ripped apart each job and each organization, a common theme arose.

“Why did you leave Whirlpool?” she asked.

“I think I just felt done with it,” I said. It seemed like such  a stupid answer to a really important question. It looked like every job that I really liked was at Whirlpool. My greatest successes were in my early career at that company by the lake. And, as we reviewed companies and culture, we both looked at each other. “I have to look at Whirlpool again, don’t I?” I asked.


So, once again, my sights were set on the appliance giant on the banks of Lake Michigan. This time, I had the disadvantage of being outside the organization, but I had the distinct advantage of having lots of friends in the fold. I knew that most jobs are filled by the time they are posted, so I had to start circulating my resume in the hopes that it would one day fall into the hands of my future manager. I also knew that I had a specific skill set that is very marketable. The doors would open for me in learning and development.

My Interview Last Year

I had an interview last year that was unsuccessful in landing the job. But I made a few contacts, and I got a look inside the company again. I knew that I wanted to be there. It felt good. A few weeks ago, I got a text from my friend Michael – another former Whirlpool employee – that I needed to send my resume immediately to our friend Sandy. There was a job, and they were looking for somebody quick with my particular brand of talent. I found myself standing in front of the Ad Center once again two weeks ago.

I sat in the parking lot of the Ad Center in my rental car awaiting my appointment with the Global HR team. The outside of what they now call the Global Headquarters (GHQ) looks very much the same as the first time I gazed upon it. I look very much the same. But the reality is that we are both very different. Whirlpool has matured, and so have I. This was the moment – and the job – that was going to bring me back. I just knew it.  And yes, Curt, I buried the lead. I accepted the position of Training Manager with the Global HR team at Whirlpool in Benton Harbor MI yesterday. My quest is complete, but the work has just begun.

I’m back, Whirlpool. Bring it on!

Sunday Night Check-In: Pray

I went to my Sacred Circle gathering at The Red Shoes tonight, and I was so glad I went. My insides were raw, and when I rounded the corner into the space where we meet, I saw about 10 other people with their rawness scrawled all over their faces. I knew that I was in the right place.

We sat together and listened to a song from Pocahontas about our inability to look at our own prejudices and priviledge.

And then we sat in silence for less than eternity but long enough to settle in. I had an awful nightmare last night, and this dream ran through my mind as I sat in contemplation. I was at work and about to start a project meeting, but my dog was with me. She was chewing on something, and I knew it was not good for her, but I was paralyzed to take it from her. Right before I got on the call, I noticed that her hair was falling out and huge raw welts were forming on her skin. It was as if she was being eaten alive by something. I was horrified and wanted to do something but I couldn’t leave my responsibilities. I woke up in the middle of my angst over what to do.

I have felt like that all week, and today’s horrific tragedy in Baton Rouge only made it worse. I’ve wondered how people live in countries that are war zones. How do you go about your daily life knowing that almost every day something horrible is going to happen? Who will it be next? WHAT will it be next? This week was like that. I scrolled down a friend’s Facebook timeline today and the tragedies paraded down her page – Pray for Orlando, Pray for France, Pray for Peace and Pray for Baton Rouge – Pray for Our City. Like my dog’s neck, the ugly raw carnage had me paralyzed.

After our meditation, I felt calmer. I felt connected. We chatted and talked about the good we had heard today, and there is plenty of that, too. In fact, people are reaching out to each other in a way I haven’t seen in awhile. A policeman friend of mine went out for ice cream last night with some colleagues, and a group of people paid for $20 gift cards for each of them. The cops in turn gave them to the employees of the store and told them to treat people to ice cream until it was all gone. Another woman stopped to ask an officer parked on the side of the road if he was okay, and he was just cleaning the windshield of his car. She commented that he had the good window cleaner, and he offered to clean hers. Then another car stopped, and he cleaned theirs, too. Then they all held hands on the side of the road and prayed.

Here in Baton Rouge on the mighty Mississippi, we are praying. We are praying for peace in our communities, our country and our world. We are praying for the families of the officers who lost their lives today. I’m praying that those who feel unheard will find more productive outlets. I’m praying that God will “show us the way.” Please pray for our city.